For a lot of reasons, my family is embarking on a new adventure this summer: we are going to start homeschooling. I had never planned to homeschool, but right now it seems to be the best option. It helps that both children are old enough that, hopefully, we can keep them on task and working. This summer is our first experiment to see how we can expect things to work, so we are giving each of the kids a small workload as a trial run.
Being me, I suggested that they each choose a language to start now and that they can continue for the future. I’m rather proud that both of them were enthusiastic about the idea, especially my son. My daughter, who plans to go into medicine, chose Latin for its use in medical and scientific terminology and because she hopes it will help her a little with Romance languages in the future. I was surprised she didn’t choose Italian, since she’s wanted to learn that for a while now, but I am certainly not disappointed with her choice.
My son is the one who really surprised me, though. He has chosen Irish Gaelic because he has decided that the Irish are the coolest people in the world. I felt that I had to warn him that this was a more challenging language for an English speaker to learn, and he was completely undeterred. So, Irish it is!
I’ve found that Latin books and curricula are fairly easy to find, but Irish Gaelic is a bit more complicated. I knew that Duolingo offers an Irish option, so we created an account for him. I then ordered a dictionary and two grammar books.
As I’ve been going through my purchases, I discovered a new dilemma: not one of these resources has a pronunciation guide. Oh, both grammar books offer explanations of lenition, eclipses, aspiration, and other mechanisms involved, but neither one of them actually has a guide to the sounds for each letter. I find this strange in a language book. I’ve never seen a course that doesn’t explain pronunciation, usually as the first lesson, and yet both of the books I ordered for Irish are lacking this information. Duolingo pronounces words, but it doesn’t explain pronunciation, so none of the resources I have address the very basic fundamentals for actually speaking the language.
Fortunately, there are several good Irish pronunciation guides online. My favorite so far is on the website of the Standing Stones, who play traditional Celtic music. They provide good examples of each sound, explain the unfamiliar concepts well, and have organized the material in a simple and logical way. I plan to share this page with my son and use it to create exercises for him that merge with the other sources we will use.
In a related note, don’t be surprised to see a plenty of future posts on my adventures in teaching and learning both Latin and Irish Gaelic!